ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) is a trade organization with more than 60,000 members that helps promote professionalism by establishing best practices and standards. Based on their following statement, I believe it is safe to say they recommend routine maintenance for your AC system:
“For the public good, it is essential that residential Heating Ventilating and Air-conditioning (HVAC) systems support a comfortable, healthy indoor environment and operate efficiently throughout its lifecycle.”
Most contractors offer tune-ups and maintenance plans at various pricing. I’ve seen some tune-up specials for low as $19! But what are they doing at this price point…are they providing a report, are they actually cleaning or inspecting anything, are they following the ACCA developed standard? I don’t know, but what I can tell you is that this standard is 66 pages long and outlines the tasks that should be performed for a maintenance program (you can download and lumber through the document here.) The recommended tasks are pretty comprehensive and will take some time to actually complete…which leads me to believe that not all tune-ups and maintenance programs are created equal.
You can vet a contractor’s maintenance approach a couple of different ways. Ask them how long the service will take. Twenty minutes is not enough time to properly go through the system. Do they provide a report? This will provide a record of the status of the AC system which can be very helpful in the future for determining issues. Ask them to provide a copy of the blank checklist they use. Not having one is probably not a good sign.